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All clear in New Prague; a bill for sex abuse victims; cross-border frac sand comparisons

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Hundreds of New Prague Middle School students are led to be picked up by their parents after the school was evacuated over what turned out to be a hoax on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
MPR Photo/Tim Post

Today on the MPR News Update we're following the hoax call that led to a school lockdown in New Prague, the fate of gun control in the Legislature, the DFL budget plan, frac sand mining regulations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, 'culturally responsive' teaching, and more.

NEW PRAGUE: There were some scary moments this morning at New Prague Middle School, where officials called for a 'code red' lockdown after reports of a possible school shooting. Then we learned that a 12-year-old boy was arrested after police say he falsely reported the incident. 

GUN CONTROL LAWS: A leading gun control supporter at the Minnesota Capitol said he is giving up on legislation that would require universal background checks for gun buyers. "What I have fought for since the session started, I am relinquishing that," said House DFLer Michael Paymar after failing to muster the votes in the committee he chairs to pass the measure.

WOMEN AND GUNS: The Daily Circuit's Kerri Miller made a trip to Bill's Gun Shop and Range in Hudson, Wis. Tuesday in preparation for today's show on women and guns. We'll have a full post later today about Kerri's experience, but we wanted to share some photos with you this morning.

DFL TAXES: Minnesota House Democrats say they want the state's wealthiest residents to temporarily pay an income tax surcharge to eliminate a funding delay to the state's schools. The Democrats released a budget outline Tuesday that also includes a permanent income tax increase similar to the one proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton. They are looking to increase taxes by roughly $2.4 billion to restore delayed payments to schools, erase a $627 million budget deficit and spend more on a variety of state programs.

CROSS-BORDER FRAC SAND: Doug Losee, who oversees environmental regulations for Mankato-based Unimin Corp.'s sand mines in Minnesota and Wisconsin, can sum up the differences between the two states' frac sand mining regulations by describing how much room the two states' environmental studies take up in his office. "The Minnesota files really take up a bookcase. And for the most part, Wisconsin I can fit in a filing cabinet."

BILL FOR SEX ABUSE VICTIMS:  The child sexual abuse allegations involving a Shattuck-St. Mary's teacher have become a focal point for state lawmakers backing a bill that would make it easier for victims of past abuse to file lawsuits against institutions that failed to protect them. The Minnesota Child Victims Act goes before the House Judiciary Committee today. It faces opposition from the Minnesota Religious Council, a lobbying group that represents many of the largest religious organizations in the state.

'CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE' TEACHING: All the bleak statistics about Minnesota's achievement gap became personal to fifth-grade teacher Jen Engel, when she realized that gap was playing out in her own classroom. The 43-year-old, who is white, is one of several teachers who are learning how to be what educators describe as "culturally responsive" to her students as part of a Twin Cities program offered by St. Mary's University of Minnesota.

NATIVE MOB: A federal jury in Minneapolis has found three men guilty of multiple racketeering charges for their affiliation with the gang known as the Native Mob. After deliberating for more than five days, the jury found guilty on several counts Wakinyon McArthur, 34, who is the alleged head of the Native Mob, Anthony Cree, 26, and William Morris, 25. The trial lasted six weeks and included testimony from more than 200 witnesses.

WALLEYE LIMITS: Fishing regulations for walleye on Mille Lacs will be much tighter this year. The new rules just announced Tuesday by the Department of Natural Resources let anglers keep up to two walleye that are between 18 inches and 20 inches long, or one in that range and one trophy walleye over 28 inches.

MINN. MARKS IRAQ WAR ANNIVERSARY: The Iraq War, which started 10 years ago today, left a lasting imprint on the men and women who served and on their families. One Minnesotan who served in the war, 31-year-old guardsman 1st Lt. Jesse Pope, arrived in Baghdad on Halloween in 2004. Pope is one of thousands of Minnesotans living with recent memories of combat. There are almost 48,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in Minnesota. 

PRESCHOOL THESPIANS: Bubbles, feathers and brain development are all elements of a production by the Children's Theatre Company. The CTC is now focusing on developing plays for toddlers. The CTC has become a national leader in work which child experts say is a perfect match for the educational needs of preschoolers.

STADIUM DRINKING: The University of Minnesota lost almost $16,000 last year on alcohol sales at home football games, despite selling more than $900,000 worth of beer and wine. The school released the figures to The Associated Press after a records request, which showed it incurred significant expenses from its first season selling alcohol stadium-wide at TCF Bank Stadium.